Categorized | Personally Speaking

Overwhelmed is an Understatement

Posted on 07 November 2010 by urbanmusiceducation.org

I’m sorry to have to do this, but I need an outlet other than my poor husband who has been taking the brunt of my venting lately. So if you’re not in the mood for reading a long venting of emotion, I suggest you click the back button now and return to where you came from! This week has been one of the toughest in 2010. I couldn’t see that on Monday I was heading down a slippery slope, but looking back, I severely crashed. Things at school have been gathering speed as we came off of a crazy post-Halloween weeks that ended a 6-week rotation of teaching our 400 students at Harrington. I planned and executed a successful Halloween assembly with singalongs, performances by two classes and a parade, then realized that I had only 4 more days with this group before they would rotate to the next special. Looking at the calendar I realized that they would not come back to me until the week of their scheduled Winter Program in December and that they would only have 4 days when they came back to prepare!! (Oh did I mention I hadn’t even thought about what songs I was going to do?!) So beginning Sunday I started stressing about the program and added that stress to the already growing list of Have-To’s that were on my plate.

Monday I stayed later than usual for a Leadership Meeting and was late to pick up the kids. I called my husband to help out, but he was already too late to get them on time and we ended up paying overtime to the daycare. Tuesday I asked about grades and found out they were due in one week, but the principal was going to tell  the staff “soon”.  As of Thursday, she still hadn’t mentioned it… I met with my mentee Wednesday and lost my planning hour (40 min), so I stayed late at work and was late again picking up the kids, having to pay another overtime bill to the daycare. Thursday it all came to a head when the literacy coach asked me if I had my action research project ready to collect data and cover for the kindergarten teacher during my plan. I hadn’t even thought about it. Four chapters were due in our book study for professional development and I hadn’t even had the time to look at the curriculum so I could start thinking about the 7 NEW UNITS I had to have ready to teach on Monday. When on earth was I supposed to do all of this??

Friday was a professional development day and I decided to take a sick day to stay home and try to work on some of the grading and planning… I felt guilty as hell. But grades got done, despite forgetting that daycare pickup is a half-hour earlier on Fridays and I was late yet again, with the provider threatening to terminate the contract. I had a meltdown in the parking lot of my older daughter’s school. Something had snapped and I couldn’t hold it in anymore. I called my husband to come home early and he was supportive. I booked a massage for this morning and vowed to use today as a renewal of my mind and soul. I prayed constantly throughout the night last night and today, crying out for God to help everyone else understand my difficult situation.

People need to understand that teacher-moms have the ultimate hardest jobs in the universe. I’m sure it’s no different than other working moms. I’d like to know what others do in this situation, but there isn’t really anyone I know to relate. The house is constantly a mess. The dishes are never done. The car is so cluttered that stuff falls out when you open the door and it’s embarrassing to tell passengers to “just put your feet on the trash”. The drive-by teaching feels like a tiny Band-aid on a gaping wound of ignorance. The feeling of “Fight or Flight” is strongly leaning towards Flight- to those beaches on the Corona commercial in front of a vast ocean of possibility. And my time for creative writing, music making, bible study, or just simply being, has been so far lost that I don’t even know how to do it anymore.

Anyway, I don’t know if there is a solution, but if you pray, I would be grateful to be included. I don’t know if this is what they refer to as burn-out, but I’m fighting for my career and my personality here. I don’t want to leave this profession, but it can’t be like this anymore, for my own sanity. I had a dream that I had a new job somewhere else and the grass was not greener there. Today, a song came on by Selah called “Press On”. So I think those two signs point to God talking to me and telling me to not give up right now. I have to believe that there is hope and that He answers our cries for help if we believe He will. Thanks for reading.:)

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4 Comments For This Post

  1. Stephanie Says:

    Hi Sarah,
    I just got to your post since I had 600 and something blog posts to catch up on. But I want you to know you are not alone. I felt like I read a page out of my journal. I love what I do (same as you) BUT there is no such thing as balance. My only is in first grade (thank god I don’t have the day care issue like you) but the poor child lives in my room while I constantly run around to catch up or stay one finger ahead of the next thing. I’d love to have another child but my husband just doesn’t see how I can do it. It makes me so sad I can’t “cut back” There is no such thing when you’re a music teacher and want a great program…anyway. I’m there with you. Concert next week that I pray my kidos remember what they learned 2 weeks ago (I see my kids for a week straight but every 2 weeks). Hang in there.

  2. Deena Smith Says:

    Sarah, I know how you feel…and as music teachers we don’t vent a lot because 1: people won’t understand or sympathize, 2: nothing can be done about it, or 3: we don’t want to alienate those few who are supportive! I have been a single mom since my daughter was 4 (she is now 18) and the daycare issue is why I changed from teaching MS and HS band to elementary music. I like the young ones better, and some days I feel like I am helping them love music….but those are the good days. Burn out? You betcha! We have 600+ kids in our school, I see them once a week for 40 minutes, and that is before impending cutbacks! The classroom teachers don’t know why I can’t bring to mind every student in their class or know their last name, and when I missspell names on the board and the kids correct me, I want to scream at them, “Look! You try to memorize that many names with correct spelling and see how easy it is!!” And, our students shift in and out continually (we are on a military base). The principal expects us related arts teachers to do everything the classroom teachers do, plus more! We have so many meetings during plan times that it is so demoralizing….an hour of lunch duty every SINGLE day AND our planning time is BEFORE SCHOOL!! I should be glad my principal knows something about music but actually she just knows enough to be dangerous. In her mind I should just sit them all down and have a sing-along every day. No dancing, no instruments, just teach them words to “those fun camp songs”. I want to cry. My concerts are just barely acceptable…we don’t have time to rehearse, and even if we did get it together, it would change right before the performance due to kids moving in and out. We are forever at a basic level, and there really is no hope of improving the situation without more time or more stability. I have been teaching twenty years, and one thing I have learned: you can sacrifice yourself for your program but in the end, everyone else will survive and some won’t even notice. You need to take care of YOU and your family, if you want to have another child, years from now you will regret it if the reason you didn’t was because of your JOB. Your husband is just worried about you and knows how devoted you are, you will shortchange yourself before you slack off on the job (sounds familiar). We need crusaders for the cause of music education, but not at the expense of your OTHER LIFE! You are only human, girl! Whatever you need to do to get a bit of sanity in your life, it is surely worth it!

  3. urbanmusiceducation.org Says:

    Thanks so much for your comment! It’s good to know I’m not alone.

  4. urbanmusiceducation.org Says:

    Deena, Sounds like you have it worse than me! It’s always good to get persepective….and a little vacation! Things are going much better this week. I don’t think they could have gotten worse… Thanks for your kind comments and time to write back.

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